Mental Fitness in the Middle Years
By D.C. Tworek, NASM CPT, Nutrition Specialist
Cognitive decline is among the top fears of aging. Wrinkles and weight gain are a worry, but the inability to think, speak, interact and recall memories is far more dreadful. Research has shown that higher education keeps the brain in top mental fitness as aging occurs – by up to 10 years. It makes a good case for pursuing that college degree and is an effective way to preserve intelligence, even when you pursue that degree later in life.
There are two types of intelligence, classified by experts as “fluid intelligence” and “crystallized intelligence.” Fluid intelligence refers to the abilities that come primarily from your genetics, such as abstract thinking and pattern recognition. This form of intelligence tends to peak around your twenties. Crystallized intelligence, on the other hand, are the skills you acquire through experience and education and is influenced by everything from your personality to opportunity to culture. It can expand continually throughout life and becomes sharper the more dynamically you stimulate your mind throughout the lifespan.
Sitting in front of the TV is no way to keep your mind sharp – reading, engaging with others, travel and even physical activity contributes to keeping the mind sharp year after year. Venture outside of the office and your living room. Try new activities, meet new people, read books that will expose you to new things and don’t let age slow your thirst for intellect.